Roger & Dave Smith with products_2

The Father of Drum Machines and the Father of MIDI Talk About Design and the Tempest

In songwriting, there was Rodgers and Hart, Gilbert and Sullivan. In music gear design, it’s hard not to assign a similar degree of expectation to the pairing of Dave Smith and Roger Linn. Between them, these two designers have been a major part of what music technology is today. Dave Smith pioneered MIDI (even giving it its acronym), the first microprocessor-based instrument (the Prophet-5), the first programmable polyphonic synth, and other innovations at Sequential Circuits. Add to that landmarks in physical modeling research (at Yamaha) and the first PC soft synth. Roger Linn built the first programmable sampled-sound drum machine …

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Listening: Paul Croker’s Sampled Vinyl MPC Collage, PublicSpacesLab

Photo (CC-BY) Hryck. / Todd. Barcelona-based, Los Angeles-edited PublicSpacesLab is an example of what a netlabel can be. Instead of just another dumping ground for sounds, it feels like a well-curated cafe, pairing regular but thoughtful releases with reflections on music making. Everything is Creative Commons-licensed, free music, from a variety of artists spanning geographies and genres. If you’re in the mood for reading, recent thought pieces from the editor cover a range of topics: Expansion, the lesser known dynamics tool (Amen, brother) The demise of an indie radio station in LA (with some harsh words for the town – …

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Maschine 1.5 Arrives, Works Better, Adds Grain Stretch and Classic Sounds

Maschine’s hardware controller, which assigns dedicated physical control to the software’s functions. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Dmitriy G./droptune. “Feature creep” is a tricky thing. We all say we want tools that focus more on what we want rather than just add features. But some functionality is there for a reason. When Maschine came out, Native Instruments’ take on drum machine workflows showed a lot of promise. The biggest draw: Native build a dedicated hardware controller just for the application, making working with the software tool more tangible, but with the flexibility of software. Maschine could integrate with your existing software effects and …

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Fast Fingers: Video, Mappings Shows You Pad Drumming on MPC, Ableton, Beyond

How to do mpc pad finger drumming from Brandon Murphy on Vimeo. Composer, musician, and drummer Brandon Murphy has put together a how-to video on playing and programming beats with a 4×4 grid. One reason to pay attention: he’s a real drummer, and had been just as skeptical about the value of all this as you probably are: I’ve been using an MPC longer than I’ve owned a computer and something that never appealed to me was “finger drumming”. It evoked thoughts of s***ty 80’s outdoor music festival wankery, dudes with offensive looking devices strapped around their necks and lots …

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Drum Machines Have Soul: araabMUZIK on MPC, with Visuals

araabMUZIK Live MPC Set Part 1 from Death by Electric Shock on Vimeo. I have exactly zero interest in entertaining the tired hardware versus software argument that surfaced, inevitably, with the discussion of the upcoming Beat Thang drum machine. But behind that question is a very relevant question: why do people love drum machines? Why do they love particular hardware, like the MPC? What can you learn about digital performance and design from these devices and their master virtuosos? Watching videos like this one, featuring araabMUZIK, gives me all the answers I need. This is one musician among others. I …

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Logging MPC Projects (Or Other Drum Machines) on Paper

It’s the little things that keep you happy sometimes. The Sunday Soundtrack blog has an interesting idea for tracking work on the MPC — write it down. (I have to say, I miss having paper notes as I did when I was making hard-copy patch diagrams of my Moog and Buchla modular creations in college.) This fellow has a printable template you can use yourself if so inclined – and, of course, it’d work with any 4×4 grid, not just the MPC. Post: Music Production on the MPC Full-sized image for use as a template Keep anything on paper in …

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REX/ReCycle Loops Meet MPC Via Mac Utilities, MPC Add-ons Live On

Up close with an MPC screen. Now you can make your computer screen your MPC slicing interface. Photo: regueifeiro. Want to load ReCycle REX sample files onto your MPC? Or looking for a better solution for chopping up samples – that is, firing up ReCycle on your screen? Joe Lambert writes in to share his GBP11 Mac utility for the task: Just a quick note to let you know about a little application I wrote that lets users easily convert chopped Recycle files into Akai MPC program files. http://apps.steamshift.com/ This essentially allows a producer to chop a breakbeat (or other …

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MPC5000 Gets 2.0 OS; Does it Stack Up to JJOS Alternative Firmware?

Akai has announced 2.0 OS for their flagship MPC5000 drum machine workstation, a free download for MPC owners. Now, the MPC itself has long been a bit minimalist in what it does – I think that’s part of its appeal, that it has resisted complexity. But users of the MPC1000 and 2000/2500 have as a result turned in some cases to an alternative firmware, JJOS, to get all the features they want. And Akai has generously looked the other way. Akai says the 2.0 OS responds to user requests. Here’s what’s baked in: Keygroup programs for chromatic, key-mapped samples (that …

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Video: Beloved Drum Machines Hit the Road

Would You Like to Tap My Box? from kamoni on Vimeo. Drum machine lovers, you now have the beat gear equivalent of Matt Harding and Where the Hell is Matt?. Kamoni, aka sonic creator, composer, and experimenter Micah Frank, takes his favorite devices out on the road, piecing them together into an epic YouTubular jam. Doepfer and Korg, Elektron and Akai, plus a lot of other devices make their way around New York and Brooklyn and other parts of the world. Ableton I think figured into editing the video clips in time — thank you, Live, for video. I could …

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NI Maschine: Fully Integrated Hardware-Software-Plug-In Drum Machine, Controller

If you could have an ideal drum machine and sample-slicing workstation, taking the physical control of hardware but the flexibility of software, what would it look like? We talk a lot about hardware control of software, but hardware usually comes second – software gets designed first, and then either you have to figure out how to map hardware to it, or someone else comes along and designs gear. That means there’s usually a disconnect in the design and workflow of the two, and most of the time, you have to reach for the mouse to make up the difference. Maschine …

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